Page 148 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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142
JEW ISH BOOK ANNUAL
in troduc tion o f a basic contrast or conflict between the
characters o f confron tation , in both ex ternal depiction
and in inner characterization; and , most significantly,
the presentation o f main characters in emotional polari­
zation.
Menashke Bezprozvani, the central character in “Rahamim
ha-sabal,” is the descendant o f Hazaz’s earlier street-wandering
figures: Meir Heres in “Kevo ha-shemesh,” Yerahmiel Leavitt in
“Marie,” Budnick (a forest-wanderer) in
Be-yishuv Shel Ya’ar
and
Reb Pinhas, the old emigre, in Istanbul.5 Like them , Menashke is
also a loner, depressed, angry, and embittered, searching but
essentially aimless and perplexed.
One sunny day Menashke Bezprozvani, lean as a pole,
wandered through the streets o f Jerusalem , his face seamed
and sickly-looking, his mou th unusually fleshy and red , his
eyes discontented and disparaging.
Bitterness gnawed at his heart, piercing th rough him like
some venom . . . the bitter, gloomy quintessence o f fever
and hunger, o f unsettled wandering from kvuzah (com­
mune) to kvuzah, o f vexations and suffering and troubles
enough to send a man ou t o f his mind and make him lose his
streng th , and all the o the r effects o f his past experiences, his
lack o f employment, and his present sickness.6
Immediately following this open ing description the n a rra to r , in
the mode o f dramatic irony, reveals to the read e r Menashke’s
inner feelings, the source o f his despair, ambivalence, and lack o f
self-awareness.
All these were the complaints o f a dejected, despairing p e r ­
son who, more than he wished to com fort himself, wished to
to r tu re himself, to cry ou t aloud and rebel and remonstra te
5 Original publications: “Kevo ha-shemesh” (signed “H. Tsevi”):
ha-Shiloah,
XXXIV, 199-204 (jan.-June, 1918), 274-284. “Marie”:
ha-Shiloah,
XLIII,
2(Nov., 1925), 123-133; 3(Dec. 1925), 200-209.
Be-yishuv Shel Ya’ar:
Stybel
Press, Berlin-Tel Aviv (Part I, 1930; Part II, 1931). The Reb Pinhas story
referred to here is “Ashir varash nifgashu”:
ha-Tekufa,
XXIV (1928), 70-96.
The three short stories noted here were never collected.
6
Rehayim Shevurim
(1942), p. 215. All references are to this version o f the story.
The translation, by I.M. Lask, is found in L.W. Schwarz, ed.,
The Jewish Cara­
van
(Schocken Books: New York, 1976), pp. 785-791.